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Optimal configurations of spatial scale for grid cell firing under noise and uncertainty

Towse, BW; Barry, C; Bush, D; Burgess, N; (2014) Optimal configurations of spatial scale for grid cell firing under noise and uncertainty. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci , 369 (1635) , Article 20130290. 10.1098/rstb.2013.0290. Green open access

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Abstract

We examined the accuracy with which the location of an agent moving within an environment could be decoded from the simulated firing of systems of grid cells. Grid cells were modelled with Poisson spiking dynamics and organized into multiple 'modules' of cells, with firing patterns of similar spatial scale within modules and a wide range of spatial scales across modules. The number of grid cells per module, the spatial scaling factor between modules and the size of the environment were varied. Errors in decoded location can take two forms: small errors of precision and larger errors resulting from ambiguity in decoding periodic firing patterns. With enough cells per module (e.g. eight modules of 100 cells each) grid systems are highly robust to ambiguity errors, even over ranges much larger than the largest grid scale (e.g. over a 500 m range when the maximum grid scale is 264 cm). Results did not depend strongly on the precise organization of scales across modules (geometric, co-prime or random). However, independent spatial noise across modules, which would occur if modules receive independent spatial inputs and might increase with spatial uncertainty, dramatically degrades the performance of the grid system. This effect of spatial uncertainty can be mitigated by uniform expansion of grid scales. Thus, in the realistic regimes simulated here, the optimal overall scale for a grid system represents a trade-off between minimizing spatial uncertainty (requiring large scales) and maximizing precision (requiring small scales). Within this view, the temporary expansion of grid scales observed in novel environments may be an optimal response to increased spatial uncertainty induced by the unfamiliarity of the available spatial cues.

Type: Article
Title: Optimal configurations of spatial scale for grid cell firing under noise and uncertainty
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0290
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0290
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Poisson noise, grid cell, spatial navigation, spatial uncertainty
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1417271
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